Yes, You Can Face Criminal Sanctions For Violating Florida’s Litter Law!

April 5, 2022 Criminal Defense

Regardless of where you are in the country, it is not uncommon to see litter lining the streets. Florida is no exception, so much so that trash has posed severe economic and environmental concerns. A prime example of this issue is Monarch Hill Energy Park, also known as Mount Trashmore, a landfill in Broward County that is over 20 stories tall and is ranked number 225 on the list of Florida’s highest points. Residents near the landfill have complained of public safety concerns due to the emissions coming from the landfill, as well as the fact that the trucks that bring the garbage to the landfill drop debris along the way, resulting in trash being scattered along the roadways and neighborhoods that lead to it. Although many people think littering is a harmless, non-punishable offense, they are mistaken. This blog will explore Florida’s litter law and the varying punishments that can arise when it is violated.

What Does the Law Say?

In an attempt to fight against illegal trash dumping throughout the state, the Florida legislature enacted Section 403.413 of the Florida Statutes, titled “Florida Littler Law”. The statute, unless specifically authorized by law or permit, makes it unlawful for any person to dump litter in any manner or amount:

  1. In or on any public highway, road, street, alley, or thoroughfare, including any portion of the right-of-way thereof, or any other public lands, except in containers or areas lawfully provided therefor. When any litter is thrown or discarded from a motor vehicle, the operator or owner of the motor vehicle, or both, shall be deemed in violation of this section;
  2. In or on any freshwater lake, river, canal, or stream or tidal or coastal water of the state, including canals. When any litter is thrown or discarded from a boat, the operator or owner of the boat, or both, shall be deemed in violation of this section; or
  3. In or on any private property, unless prior consent of the owner has been given and unless the dumping of such litter by such person will not cause a public nuisance or otherwise be in violation of any other state or local law, rule, or regulation.

Under the statute, the term “litter” can encompass a lot of things, such as:

Any garbage; rubbish; trash; refuse; can; bottle; box; container; paper; tobacco product; tire; appliance; mechanical equipment or part; building or construction material; tool; machinery; wood; motor vehicle or motor vehicle part; vessel; aircraft; farm machinery or equipment; sludge from a waste treatment facility, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility; or substance in any form resulting from domestic, industrial, commercial, mining, agricultural, or governmental operations.

Who Can Enforce the Law?

Generally, a regular law enforcement officer can enforce the litter law. However, the local governing body of a county or a municipality can have individuals who are not law enforcement officers enforce the law, as long as they determine the training and qualifications that such employees of the county or municipality or any employees of the county or municipal park or recreation department must have before they enforce the law under Section 403.413.


The penalty for violating Florida’s litter law is dependent on the amount of litter that was dumped. Any person who dumps litter not exceeding 15 pounds in weight or 27 cubic feet in volume and not for commercial purposes commits a noncriminal infraction, punishable by a fine of $150. Under the statute, litter is dumped for a “commercial purpose” when it is done so for economic gain.

Any person who dumps litter in an amount exceeding 15 pounds in weight or 27 cubic feet in volume, but not exceeding 500 pounds in weight or 100 cubic feet in volume and not for commercial purposes is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, and one year of probation. In addition, the court shall require the violator to pick up the litter or perform other community service. Further, if the violation involves the use of a motor vehicle, upon a finding of guilt, whether or not adjudication is withheld or whether imposition of sentence is withheld, deferred, or suspended, the court shall forward a record of the finding to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, who will record a penalty of three points on the violator’s driver’s license.

Lastly, the most severe penalty – a third degree felony – punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and 5 years’ probation, will result for any person who dumps litter exceeding 500 pounds in weight or 100 cubic feet in volume or in any quantity for commercial purposes, or dumps litter which is deemed hazardous waste under Section 403.703 of the Florida Statutes

In addition to the penalties listed above, the court may also order the violator to:

  1. Remove or render harmless the littler that he or she dumped in violation of the law
  2. Repair or restore property damaged by, or pay damages for any damage arising out of, his or her dumping litter in violation of this section; or
  3. Perform public service relating to the removal of litter dumped or to the restoration of an are polluted by litter dumped

Viral TikTok Video Brings Issue to Light

In a viral series of TikTok videos that have garnished close to 12 million views, user @vphillips1 documents her experience trying to remedy an instance of illegal roadside dumping. The series of six videos begins with the user finding countless black garbage bags of waste on her property. She finds a piece of mail inside one of the bags with a name and address, and proceeds to have the waste loaded onto a large trailer and brought back to the address. The garbage is then dumped from the trailer onto the owner’s driveway. The TikTok user and another individual confronted multiple people at the property, exclaiming “maybe you’ll think twice before you do something so stupid like this again.”

Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney

As miniscule as a littering violation seems, you can face serious criminal sanctions depending on the amount of trash you dump. If you are facing criminal charges for illegal trash dumping, ensure you are informed of your rights and zealously advocated for by a qualified Tallahassee criminal defense attorneyDon Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have years of experience defending Floridians against a wide array of criminal charges and will stand in your corner. Call us today at (850) 681 – 7777 or send an online message today to discuss your legal matter during an open and free consultation with an attorney in our team.

Written by Sarah Kamide

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